Celebrate Purple Martins in Ladysmith July 20

Wear something purple on July 20 and join the BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program at its tenth annual open house at the Ladysmith Maritime Society marina from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. to celebrate the return of Western Purple Martins, a Species At Risk in B.C.

The B.C. Purple Martin population increased from five breeding pairs in 1985 to about 950 nesting pairs in 2013 mainly as a result of nest boxes built, installed and maintained by volunteers. The warm dry summer last year and a plentiful supply of flying insects resulted in the martins successfully raising over 3,400 young, which is a significant increase over recent years.

“Although the final count for 2014 is not yet available, there has been an exceptional return of two- and three-year-old birds as well as first year birds (subadults) this year. Many small to medium-sized central Island colonies are again fully occupied and about 10 previously unoccupied nest box sites around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are occupied for the first time this year. This is very exciting to see,” said Program Biologist Bruce Cousens. “The martin colony at the LMS marina is the largest on Vancouver Island and we’re expecting about 70 pairs this year.”

In the Duncan area, Purple Martins can be seen and heard around the pilings at Cowichan Bay.

Visitors will be able to watch adults feeding nestlings, learn more about the conservation of Purple Martins and hear stories about Purple Martins activities around the Strait of Georgia and other parts of Canada. Martin nestlings will be banded at sessions scheduled for 3 p.m. during the open house.

Light refreshments and the famous purple (blueberry) milkshakes will be served while quantities last. When you get to Ladysmith, follow the yellow signs to the marina and park in the upper parking lot. Wear something purple and join in the fun.

The BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program is coordinated by Georgia Basin Ecological Assessment and Restoration Society (GBEARS) of Nanaimo.

The Recovery Program is supported this year by BC Hydro, Canadian Wildlife Service, Island Timberlands, Ladysmith Maritime Society, Mid Island Coop, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Pacific Conservation Assistance Fund, Pender Island Conservancy Association, TimberWest, Victoria Natural History Society and Western Purple Martin Foundation as well as many individuals, local businesses and volunteers.